You received your child’s PARCC scores and you’re not quite sure what to make of them. Your child scored a 4 in math but a 2 in ELA. What does that mean? Is there anything you should do? With standardized testing now a key part of your child’s academic future, spend some time getting to know the exams and learning what you can do to ensure your child is fully prepared for the future.
Learn about the test
What is the PARCC anyways? Starting with the 2014-15 school year, New Jersey moved from the NJ Ask as a means of academic assessment to the PARCC, which stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers in ELA and math – essentially exams that are designed to measure high-level skills more effectively than their predecessor. The PARCC assessments are given to students in grades 3-11 and test both math and ELA. These computer-based tests are given in individual units and students are given one unit per day over 3 or 4 consecutive days.
How does the scoring work?
The PARCC is scored on a points system with each test worth 850 total points. The scores are broken into five levels:
Level 5 – exceeded expectations (810-850)
Level 4 – met expectations (750-809)
Level 3 – approached expectations (725-749)
Level 2- partially met expectations (700-724)
Level 1 – did not meet expectations (650-699)
When you receive a score sheet, you will see not just your child’s individual scores but also the average scores across heir school, district, and state, and descriptions of where your child did well and where she could use some additional help. This information will help you assess how will your child met (or did not meet) grade level expectations in ELA and math, and the category breakdown within each subject can help you understand any academic areas that need further attention and development (that’s a good thing!).
What should you do to help prepare your child going forward?
Focus on skills building!
If your child scored below what you had hoped for, don’t fret! Instead, talk to his teacher about ways to improve his academic performance, and look for supplemental activities you can do to develop any areas of weakness. You can try online resources like bealearninghero.org, learningfarm.com, and IXL.com for targeted skills-building exercises. There are also several PARCC specific test prep books that offer ample practice with the different types of questions on the exams. Lumos Learning, Common Core 4 Today, and Spectrum all offer these types of books.
Look at past test samples
To familiarize your child with the structure and format of the exam, seek out past sample tests. Questions on the PARCC might seem more confusing than past exams with more straight forward questions, so exposure to the types of questions (and practice solving them) will be very helpful for your child. For example, instead of plugging in a number to solve a straight forward math problem, on the PARCC, your child might now need to read a problem with, for example, four or five numbers – but only use two of them to solve it. Be sure to give your child a feel for these “trickier” types of questions so he is not surprised when he seems them; instead, he should feel confident and well-prepared come test day.
Standardized tests are likely here to stay. Help prepare your child for these exams going forward by assessing her weaknesses from past exams, building her core skills, and exposing her to the exam format and questions she will inevitably see. In doing so, she will be well on her way to academic and standardized testing success.